Saturday, 27 May 2017

Bank Holiday Weekend - again

I spent much of yesterday, as the previous day, uploading and writing some key captions for the 900+ photos taken on our Rhine cruise, I only discarded a couple of dozen bad pictures. It's a tribute to the reliability, ease of use and responsiveness of the Sony HX50 and HX300 cameras I took with me.

Many photos required no editing at all. A few were taken in situations where conditions confused the camera sensor leading to underexposure, but this could be rectified using the old desktop Picasa, still a versatile easy to use app. For the most part, however, Google Photos on-line editor provided all the tools I needed. With poor connectivity on the cruise, uploading, let alone editing was impossible, so my spare time since arriving home has been taken with making an album for each day's photos.

Encouraged by Clare, I also made a couple of web albums using just a third of the available photos covering the trip in two halves, so as not to exhaust the patience of viewers. You can find the first of these here and the second here.

Owain came over to visit in time for supper after work and stayed the night, returning to Bristol in the afternoon, as he has a gig to prepare for tomorrow.. It was good to see him, and enjoy our evening meal outdoors in the warmth of the evening sun, drinking a bottle of Alsacian Gewurztraminer for a change. Before lunch, he took us to Luffkin's Coffee Roasters a tiny cafe in a King's Road back alley next to the evangelical mission hall calling itself the 'Church of God in Cardiff'. The cafe offers a few select single estate grown filter served coffees from Africa or Latin America, and offers a breakfast featuring several different special kinds of bread. A foodie's paradise. 

Further down the alley is the popular local Pipes micro-brewery, whose beers can be found in several places across the city centre. The alley also boasts a small select farmers' market stalls on weekends - organic veg, bread, cheese and a dried meat and sausage stall. It's the first time we've had occasion to explore this alleyway properly when fully in use. I turns out to be a hidden treasure of our Parish.

In the evening after supper, I walked around Pontcanna fields. The entire north football field area is currently enclosed in Heras fencing, and half of it covered with tents - a hundred four person and a hundred two person tents, plus wigwam shaped marquees and toilets. This is the 'Tent City' which is being prepared to accommodate surplus visitors arriving for the UEFA Cup Winners' cup final in the city centre's Principality Stadium next weekend. Apparently all hotel are already booked, and a large crowd of Spanish fans are expected, as the finalists are the two top Spanish teams. There's an unprecedented high level of extra security measures being taken in town as well, planned for a long time, and not just in response to last Monday's terrorist incident in Manchester.

The British Airways total IT systems failure has been headline news all day, bringing to a halt all their operations at Heathrow and Gatwick. Every one of the airline's activities is so heavily dependent on use of networked computers and phones, that nobody could communicate with anyone else, and passengers were left stranded in departure lounges and on aircraft, unable to move safely without the appropriate forms of clearance. It's been attributed to power failures at the server farm level, and thankfully, not to cyber attacks. This high level of electronic dependency and reliance on the core of the system never failing is a disaster waiting to happen.

IT workers unions criticised the redundancy imposed on 1,200 BT computer system staff last year, and outsourcing of their jobs to Indian company Tata Consultancy Services. Cardiff Council made the same move several years ago, as a money saver, and on a couple of occasions I know of, the entire system went down for much of a day. The technology is new, state of the art, but this doesn't mean it's been tried and tested to the extreme limit of reliability. This couldn't have happened at a more critical time, Bank Holiday weekend. One can only hope questions are asked and lessons learned about long term sustainability from such disastrous experience.

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